14 FEB 2005: Bicycle access across I-70

Summary:
Contact MoDOT and say, "Bicyclists and pedestrians need access across I-70 at the proposed Kingdom City interchange."

Contacts:
You can submit comments these ways:
Email: comments@improvei70.org
Phone: 1-800-590-0066
Mail:
Improve I-70
P.O. Box 410482
Kansas City, MO
64141-0482
Details:
Missouri Bicyclists & Pedestrians,

We issued this advocacy alert in November 2004. However at that time we did not push the issue and I believe that very few of us sent input to MoDOT.

By chance, Laurie Chipman and I drove by the Kingdom City interchange Sunday, so we stopped to take a look.

There is no WAY this can reasonably be classified as an interchange so remote that there will be no bicycle or pedestrian demand.

Reading the MoDOT description of the interchange, I imagined it as some remote highway interchange surrounded by cow fields and prairie.

I was flabbergasted to discover that it's nothing of the sort. It's a thriving little community and business district, nestled up close to both sides of the freeway I-70) and highway (Hwy 54).

In short, there will be just as much demand for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross this interchange, as if were in any large metro area where businesses or neighborhoods are close to an interstate freeway in a similar configuration.

MoDOT needs to hear our voices on this, loud and strong.

Gory Details:
An environmental assessment study on the Kingdom City section of the proposed improvement of the I-70 corridor is currently taking public comments.

The issue is that designers believe that rural overpasses, like the one where Hwy 54 crosses I-70 at Kingdom City, do not have sufficient demand to warrant bicycle or pedestrian accommodations.

By weighing in on this issue, you can have an impact not only on the Kingdom City interchange, but on the design of rural overpasses throughout the state of Missouri.

You may consider these points when writing or calling MoDOT to let your voice be heard on this important issue:
  • Many other states are making all bridges and overpasses in every location, whether urban or rural, bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
  • Bridges and overpasses will likely be in use for the next 50-100 years. It is impossible to predict future use, population growth, and transportation patterns. Allowing for transportation alternatives is the farsighted approach.
  • The area immediately surrounding the Kingdom City interchange is densely built up as a commercial area. As such, it will have the same pedestrian and bicycle demand as any similar commercial area situated anywhere. The demand right now is entirely latent, as lack of proper facilities means that no one considers bicycling or walking within the commercial district.
  • It is well established that making commercial districts more bicycle and pedestrian friendly increases their attractiveness to customers and to new businesses.
  • Studies show that the rural population has a lower level of fitness, leading to all the health problems associated with lower fitness levels, greater obesity, high blood pressure, premature diabetes, increased risk of heart attacks, and so on. The simple reason for the lack of fitness is the lower level of pedestrian and bicycle accommodation in rural areas.
  • Many bicyclists ride 20-50 miles routinely and centuries are very popular weekend club rides. Therefore any location within 10, 25, or even 50 miles of any populated area must be considered within easy riding distance. The rural areas that transportation designers may consider as extremely unlikely for bicyclists to use are, in fact, often quite easy to access and very desirable for bicyclists.
  • TEA-21 requires states to build a seamless transportation network with real transportation choice. The Missouri Bicycle Federation strongly supports this. Creating "pinchpoints", like bike/ped-unfriendly overpasses, where bicycling and walking are very dangerous or impossible, undermines the entire bike/ped transportation network and has negative effects, some foreseeable and some unforeseeable, far downstream.
  • Specifically, Kingdom City is less than 30 miles--an easy ride--from Mexico, Fulton, Columbia, and Jefferson City. Leaving the Kingdom City interchange bicycle unfriendly will have a strong negative impact on the network of bicycle-friendly roads the interconnect the major and minor cities in this entire region. Kingdom City looks like it is a "long ways from anywhere", but it in bicycling terms it is within an easy ride of the 5th and 11th largest cities in Missouri as well as numerous other population centers.
  • Even if pedestrian access on overpasses in remote areas is relatively uncommon, pedestrians still use these remote facilities far more than planners realize. Often, people who walk in these situations have no alternative (automobile breakdown, do not own an automobile, etc.). And pedestrians crossing an overpass with high-speed highway traffic and no pedestrian facilities is quite dangerous--so even if it happens with relative infrequency, it is still an important safety problem.
  • Federal law applicable to these overpasses says:
    In any case where a highway bridge deck being replaced or rehabilitated with Federal financial participation is located on a highway on which bicycles are permitted to operate at each end of such bridge, and the Secretary determines that the safe accommodation of bicycles can be provided at reasonable cost as part of such replacement or rehabilitation, then such bridge shall be so replaced or rehabilitated as to provide such safe accommodations.
    The proposed TEA-21 renewal specifies that this will apply for both bicycle and pedestrian accommodation. This language is in both the House and Senate version of the TEA-21 renewal and so is extremely likely to be in the final version.

    Under Missouri law, both bicyclists (RSMO 307.188) and pedestrians (RSMO 300.405) are permitted to operate on Hwy 54, so this language clearly applies.
Please be polite and persuasive when you write. A brief comment, making only one or two points, is perfectly acceptable. It is useful to identify yourself as a member of an organized bicycling or advocacy group (if you are a member).

You can submit comments these ways:
Email: comments@improvei70.org

Phone: 1-800-590-0066

Mail:
Improve I-70
P.O. Box 410482
Kansas City, MO
64141-0482

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